The magnitude of blood pressure (BP) and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) responses to laboratory stressors is commonly used to compare neurocardiovascular responsiveness between groups and conditions. However, no studies have rigorously examined the reproducibility of BP and MSNA responsiveness. Here, we assess the within-visit reproducibility of BP (finger photoplethysmography) and MSNA (microneurography) responses to isometric handgrip (HG) and postexercise ischemia (PEI) in young healthy adults (n = 30). In a subset (n = 21), we also examined the between-visit reproducibility of responsiveness to HG, PEI, and the cold pressor test (CPT). Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were used as a primary reproducibility measure (e.g., ICC >0.75 is considered very good). Within a visit, the increase in mean arterial pressure during HG [ICC = 0.85 (0.69–0.93); P < 0.001] and PEI [ICC = 0.85 (0.69–0.93); P < 0.001] demonstrated very good reproducibility. Furthermore, the between-visit reproducibility of the pressor response to HG [ICC = 0.85 (0.62–0.94); P < 0.001], PEI [ICC = 0.84 (CI = 0.58–0.94); P < 0.001], and the CPT [ICC = 0.89 (0.72–0.95) P < 0.001]) were also very good. However, there was greater variability in both the within- [HG: ICC = 0.58 (-0.22–0.85), P = 0.001; PEI: ICC = 0.33 (-0.24–0.69), P = 0.042] and between-visit reproducibility of MSNA responsiveness [HG: ICC = 0.87 (0.53–0.96), P = 0.001; PEI: ICC = 0.24 (-0.62–0.78), P = 0.27; CPT: ICC = 0.77 (0.29–0.93), P = 0.007]. The magnitude of the BP response to several standard laboratory stimuli was very good, whereas the variability of the MSNA response to these perturbations was generally less consistent, particularly during PEI. These data provide novel insight for both study design and data interpretation when comparing neurocardiovascular responsiveness between different conditions, groups, or studies, as well as before and after interventions/treatments. NEW & NOTEWORTHY The magnitude of the increases in blood pressure and muscle sympathetic nerve activity in response to sympathoexcitatory stimuli such as static handgrip, postexercise ischemia, and the cold pressor test are commonly used to assess neurocardiovascular responsiveness. However, limited studies have comprehensively examined the reproducibility of these responses. We demonstrate that the reproducibility of the pressor response to these perturbations was very good within an individual, whereas the reproducibility of the MSNA response was less consistent.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physiology (medical)